Happy 30th: Van Dyke Parks, TOKYO ROSE
30 years ago this month, Van Dyke Parks released his fifth studio album, and it continued the same trend of the four albums which preceded it by bearing no musical resemblance to anything in the pop charts at the time of its release.
Produced by Andrew Wickham, TOKYO ROSE is arguably a concept album about the middle ground between American and Japanese cultures, often offering a blending of the two countries’ musical sensibilities, as with the first track, “America,” an adaptation of “America the Beautiful” with some decidedly Japanese-influenced touches. AllMusic.com’s review of the album suggested that it “often sounds like the original cast album to some eccentric Broadway musical about footloose and pretentious Ugly Americans vacationing in the Pacific Rim,” making mention of the fact that – in addition to Parks taking vocals on many songs – the album also features guest vocals by Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night.
As noted, Parks is not an artist who’s ever made a concerted effort to go with the commercial flow, if you will, and that’s certainly evident on TOKYO ROSE, which could pass for an album from the ‘60s with little trouble. That said, it’s a pretty great piece of work, one that’s highly creative and well worth checking out if you’ve never heard it before.